Friday, July 9, 2010

Blood and Thunder

I've completed another of my "morning reads".  For the uninitiated, these are books that I used to read during the half hour or so before leaving for work in the morning, usually taking a month or more to complete.  However, now that I am unemployed, I still use the early morning hours (when it's nice and quiet) to work on these books.

Blood and Thunder, subtitled, "The Epic Story of Kit Carson and the Conquest of the American West", was written by Hampton Sides and was an important book for me.  You see, I grew up in the Southwestern US, namely New Mexico, and have since lived all over the western US including California, Utah, and Colorado, also spending lots of time in Nevada, Arizona, and Texas.  And yet, I have long felt my historical education of the region has been aquired in bits and pieces only with no real handle on how it all fit together.  I was first attracted to this book by the great cover art and the subject of Kit Carson since I had always wanted to read about his life.  But this book turned out to be about quite a bit more than just Kit Carson's life.

Don't get me wrong, Kit Carson's life and deeds are incredible.  He seems to have been everywhere in the West, at most of the important events, often effecting them in astounding ways.  We read of John Charles Fremont and his Pathfinder expeditions, with Kit Carson as his guide.  We follow the Civil War events in New Mexico (a good followup to the set of four novels I read last year by P.G. Nagle), as well as learn about General Stephen Watts Kearny, the conquerer of the West.  And through it all is the plight of the Navajo Indians, and their leaders.  These events and characters just scratch the surface of what this book covers.  I highly recommend this book to anybody interested in a good all-around discussion of the history of the American South West.

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Top 10 Books in no particular order (Well Known Authors)

  • "The Stand" by Stephen King
  • "Kane and Able" by Jeffrey Archer
  • "The Killer Angels" by Michael Shaara
  • "The Dark Elf Trilogy" by RA Salvatore
  • "Name of the Wind" by Patrick Rothfuss
  • "River God" by Wilbur Smith
  • "Mortalis" by RA Salvatore
  • "Ender's Game" by Orson Scott Card
  • "Centennial" by James A Michener
  • "The Repairman Jack" series by F. Paul Wilson

Top Books/ Series in no particular order (Lesser Known Authors)

  • "The Sculpter" by Gregory Funaro
  • "Power Down" by Ben Coes
  • "Revolution at Sea Saga" by James L. Nelson
  • "Black Rain" by Graham Brown
  • "Top Producer" by Norb Vonnegut
  • "Prairie" by Anna Lee Waldo
  • "The Wild Blue" by W. Boyne & S Thompson
  • "Unsolicited" series by Julie Kaewert
  • "Freedom" by William Safire